Monday, January 25, 2010
Going bald is like always having a bad haircut.
It's watching furtive glances dart across your scalp rather than your face.
It's looking much older than you feel.
It means swallowing your pride to play video games.
It is telling yourself you are more manly than most men since male patterned baldness is related to an overproduction of testosterone.
It's wondering why extra testosterone would lead to a gene that repels the opposite sex.
It's having everyone tell you your hair looks good when you don't style it because it looks more full being dry and pushed down.
It's starting a hat collection.
It's worrying about your hats making more of your hair fall out.
It's considering a fedora.
It's keeping a skull cap on indoors.
It's hating white pillow cases.
It's hating all pillow cases.
It means getting in shape because the only thing that is worse than bald, is bald and fat.
It's noticing other men's hair.
It's threatening to punch anyone in the face that wants to rub your head for luck.
It's being called sir all the time.
It's upsetting your mother who sees herself aging through your scalp.
It means a $3 container of gel lasts a year.
It's wondering if other bald men signal each other like motorcyclists on the road.
It's not changing the Hair Club for Men commercials.
It's becoming furious when you see the hair paint infomercial.
It's being happy you're already married.
It's wondering if you're a faster swimmer.
It's a beacon of freedom for birds and a Dateline special for men.
It means not having your ID checked at the bar, grocery store, or gas station.
It's avoiding tall women.
It's walking up stairs quickly.
It's avoiding birds at all times.
It's reflecting the sun.
It's a peeling scalp that looks like greasy dandruff.
It's wondering what sunscreen will do to the hair you still have.
It's regretting wearing a buzz cut in high school.
It's considering shoplifting Rogaine since it is $60 a bottle.
It's being pitched all kinds of crap from your barber who won't shut up about your thinning hair.
It's laughing when people say you have soft hair.
It's keeping a comb around for sentimental reasons.
It's waking up and checking if any grew back.
It's leaving the itch on your scalp alone.
It's becoming a Bruce Willis fan for a whole new reason.
It's dealing with people who feel like they are doing you a service to point it out.
It's calculating how much money you will save by cutting your own hair.
It's never taking a picture while seated.
It's always keeping your chin up.
It's avoiding middle school kids.
It's loving your gray hair.
It's hating Billy Corgan.
It's only playing pool with people you know.
It's assuming fresh fruit is mocking you.
It's a race against time.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
It has taken a great deal of effort to sit down and post my thoughts about championship Sunday in the NFL after last week's debacle. As late as this is going out, I imagine this won't get read until after the games are over, so I will keep it short.
New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts
No team of recent memory has been more fortunate than the Jets. After getting walked into the playoffs, they played two teams that went a combined 0-5 kicking field goals. Neither the Bengals or Chargers gave a good effort at home, and the defense of the Jets was enough to keep them in games. They have done a pretty good job of ball protection and have taken advantage of their opponents mistakes.
That being said, I can't imagine there is any way that the Colts fall victim to the Jets brand of football. Indy should understand what they are up against unlike the Jets previous two opponents. The most important difference this week is Colts QB Peyton Manning, the consummate professional. Manning has not had the postseason success you would expect for a QB of his caliber, but every team that has been a thorn in his side is watching on TV.
The path to the Super Bowl could not be more perfect for Manning. Doesn't it seem inevitable that he will have two Super Bowl championships? He can't be known for tying his brother in Super Bowl victories. The Colts played a warm up last week when they beat the Baltimore Ravens who could be the twin brother of the Jets.
Once again it will be strength against strength. The Colts passing offense against the Jets blitzing defense. The Jets pressure QBs 60 percent of the snaps but Manning has a QB rating of 118 against the blitz this year. Indy boasts a more consistent defense than San Diego or Cincy. Without a passing attack, I don't see the Jets putting up enough points to keep up with Manning. Jets DB Darrelle Revis will cover Colts WR Reggie Wayne which should be Revis' toughest challenge this postseason.
The outcome shouldn't be taken for granted since a similar argument has been made against the Jets for the past two rounds by nearly everyone. The Jets have shown great resiliency to match their tremendous luck, but their luck has to run out this week. I like the Colts BIG. I think Manning leads at least four TD drives, and the Colts eclipse 30 points.
Colts 31 Jets 13
Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints
It seems like the best matchups this postseason have been in the NFC, but the games have all turned out to be lopsided. I thought Minnesota vs. Dallas would be a very competitive game, but the Vikings pounded Dallas like veal. Suddenly WR Sidney Rice is on top of the world and RB Adrian Peterson has taken a back seat. Brett Favre has not disappointed this year, and the playoff win has to give him confidence.
The Saints reminded the world why they are the number one seed as they pummelled the Cardinals last week. All purpose back Reggie Bush came up with a great game which occurs about every ten. QB Drew Brees was sharp early, and they put away the Cards by the start of the second quarter. The Saints offense was clicking on all cylinders, but they also faced a team that gave up 45 points the previous week. More impressive was their ability to shut down QB Kurt Warner and the Cardinals high powered offense.
The Saints weren't really tested last week, and they will actually have to play against a real NFL defense. Minnesota should feel very confident after last week's win. They have been able to win several games without Peterson getting his usual yards, and they have the best defensive line in the league.
Two things work against the Vikings though. First, they are on the road. The home (or dome) field advantage Minnesota enjoys is one of the biggest in the NFL. The few times the Vikes looked vulnerable were on the road. The second problem the Vikings have is that I will be rooting for them. They have been my safety team after drafting Peterson, and just like always, I will need them to come through to salvage some joy out of this post season.
New Orleans is not immune to some bad voodoo either. Much like San Diego, they have never been a team that has gotten over their playoff woes. In the age of BB (Before Brees), the Saints couldn't make it out of the first round of the playoffs. When I lived in New Orleans, fans would wear monkeys on their backs to try and reverse the jinx of first round losses. Now that Brees has taken over, they have had more success, but still have not made it past the championship game. This would be a monumental win for the Saints and their fans. This is the first year the Saints will host an NFC championship game.
To see Favre against Manning in the Super Bowl would be tremendous. Manning against Brees would be fun, but it just doesn't have the same feel. Favre vs. Manning would be like Magic vs. Bird at the end of their careers. If Peterson can get going, it will give Favre and the rest of the offense a big boost. He's like a power hitter in a slump, and you know he is due for a breakout(for those keeping track, that is an NBA analogy followed by an MLB analogy, both to describe the NFL. Nice.) Eventually a hole will open up for him and he'll take it to the house. If the difference becomes who has the better defense, you have to go with the Vikings.
My heart says Minnesota, my head says New Orleans. Either team can win this game, the real prediction is deciding what kind of game it will be. Turnovers? Sloppy play? More defense than expected? Shootout? All of these factors are involved. Can Brett really make it to the Super Bowl this year? Is it Brees' turn? Enough! I believe the offenses will win out.
Minnesota 30 New Orleans 35
Sunday, January 17, 2010
I am so sick of being a Chargers fan. I know I said that Chargers fans would be wise to temper expectations, but for some reason I do not ever take my own advice. It is unbelievable the way this team crumbles in the post season when they are the favorite. How many disappointments at home can one team be a part of? Not one player on the team should be proud of their performance against the Jets. I don't buy for a second that the Jets deserve credit more than San Diego is to blame. The Jets didn't play that well, they're not even that good. Not one Charger was ready to play, and they made the Jets look good. They just lost to a rookie quarterback who was hardly asked to throw.
Let's start the blame with Nate Kaeding. Kaeding has consistently been one of the top three kickers in the league during the regular season, but when the playoffs come around, he folds like a napkin. He was 0-3 in field goal attempts including a chip shot from 36 yards away that would have given the Chargers points on their second possession of the game. When I saw that ball miss, I knew the Chargers were in trouble. Kaeding has now lost two games to the Jets, and missed a chance to beat New England, all in San Diego. What is the point of having a kicker that cannot make field goals in the playoffs? In a game where you are facing the best defense in the NFL, you have to capitalize on every scoring opportunity. Kaeding left 9 points on the field. I realize one of the attempts was a 57 yarder, but the kick wasn't even close, and it almost led to a return by Darrelle Revis the other way. If he would have made the two field goals he was supposed to, the Chargers would have won.
Next blame is a combination of the offensive line and RB Ladainian Tomlinson. I don't care how many weapons you have in the passing game, you have to be able to pick up more than one yard on the ground when you run the ball. RB Darren Sproles had a couple of good carries towards the end of the half but never got handed the ball the rest of the game. Tomlinson looked like he was running hard, but couldn't find any room, and lacks the speed to run the ball to the outside. He is over the hill, and this year was his best chance to win a Super Bowl. The lessons of playoff disappointments in the past did not sink in with the veteran leaders, and the entire team came out flat. It seemed like there would never be room to run, and there wasn't. I understand that the best offenses are balanced, but when it is clear that you can't pick up yards on the ground, why do you continue running into the teeth of the defense? I have to think that having the name Tomlinson on the back of your jersey demands a certain number of carries. I hate to see players who have meant as much to the city as Tomlinson cast aside (like the Padres did with Trevor Hoffman), but the Chargers need a RB bad. Real bad. Tomlinson is done.
Next to blame is head coach Norv Turner. I was so disappointed when the Charger's let Marty Schottenheimer go and hired Turner. It didn't seem to be an upgrade at all, but he really grew on me with an unexpected playoff win last year, and the great run they had at the end of this year. But when your team comes out and lays a collective egg, the head coach is the first person you look to blame for not imparting the proper motivation. The game plan was not the issue more than the execution, but the blame begins and ends with the head coach in the NFL. That's just the way it is. After going 14-2, Schottenheimer was fired after an unexpected first round loss. I am not saying that is the right move for Turner, but he should think about that precedent. I haven't read any thoughts on the game, but I guarantee a lot of the good will that Turner built up this year is out the window with this loss. As sad as it is, the best thing Charger's fans can hope for is a bad season next year where they can justify hiring a coach that can actually have his team ready to beat someone other than themselves in the post season. It might not matter as the Chargers could lose WR Vincent Jackson and LB Shawne Merriman. The rest of the team is getting old with the exception of QB Phillip Rivers, and it is clear he cannot win the game on his own.
Let's also not forget to blame the passing game. Rivers threw two interceptions. WR Malcolm Floyd needed to step up since he wouldn't be covered by Revis, but he dropped passes and was a non factor. The Chargers consistently drove and stalled due to penalties. Even though the line did a great job in pass protection and picking up blitzes, they couldn't get any momentum thanks to drops and ridiculous penalties.
Penalties, penalties, penalties. Every time the Chargers had momentum they shot themselves in the foot with a penalty. Holding, false starts, personal fouls, even an unsportsmanlike conduct for kicking a challenge flag when the faintest hope of a comeback was sparked.
Defense. Overall, you can't be too disappointed with the defense, but when the offense cannot perform and you still have a chance to win the game if you come up with a stop, you have to make the play. When you know your opponent is going to run the ball and you can't stop them, you haven't done your job. At the very end of the game on 4th and 1, everyone in the country knows the running back is getting the ball up the middle. At that point it is a matter of desire, and it looked like the defense was ready to go home. The hole that the Jets were able to open on that play was bigger than any one Tomlinson had the entire game. That is desire. Even more disconcerting was the play before when it was 3rd and 6 and they gave up a five yard run. That run enabled the Jets to go for the first down and seal the game. If the D stops them two yards shorter, the Jets punt, and Rivers has a chance for another patented comeback. There is a reason the Jets have the best running attack in the NFL, and it's not because they have the best backs or line. It is because they are one dimensional and can't consistently ask their QB to make plays. They have to live and die with the run, and the Chargers D could not make a play when it mattered in the second half.
I'm so upset that I let myself believe in these guys again. I told myself I would never get so invested that I would be mad when they lost, but I am beside myself right now. My wife is irritated that I am letting the game ruin the day as I am currently in Colorado with the in laws, but what a terrible loss. You could not have picked a better team to play if you were the Chargers. The Jets didn't even belong in the playoffs and the Chargers handed them the game. If this game had been played in the regular season, the San Diego Chokers would have beat them by 20 points. It is games like this that have led me to pick a safety team in the NFC to root for. I just can't trust the Chargers to ever play above their potential. It has been a lifetime of underachieving, disappointment, and anger. I guess the radio personalities are correct when they say San Diego can never produce a winner because the hunger cannot be cultivated living in paradise.
Once again the football season is ruined by an early exit from the playoffs. It would be okay if they played a team that is better than them, but once again the Chargers beat themselves at home. Damn it! Just pathetic. How do you come up with your worst game of the year at home in the post season? Year after year. Year after year. AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would say I know what its like to be a Cowboys fan, but at least they have had success beyond the regular season at some point in their history. An embarrassing Super Bowl loss is all Chargers fans have to hang their hat on.
I am not sure when I will be able to stomach reading the post game interviews or articles, but that team should be ashamed of their performance, again. It is not like you don't have history to learn from. How you let it happen again is beyond belief. I apologize that this post is not very glib, I am writing out of pure anger, and not planning on proof reading.
Addition: I am writing this paragraph a couple of hours after I posted the above. I want to go back and say something about Ladainian Tomlinson. There should be more professionals like him. He has had an amazing career as everyone knows, but more importantly he has carried himself with class and represented the Chargers organization better than anyone in my lifetime. He is an extremely rare example of a classy NFL star running back. All the stats and wins he has piled up as a Charger can never touch the pride and class he carried himself with. He is a true role model and I hope there are several young kids striving to grow up and be like him. As I have cooled off after another devastating loss, I feel like I would be remiss to not say something about Tomlinson after what might have been his last game, at least as a Charger. I realize the expectations I have of the Chargers has been built through the years thanks greatly in part from the effort of Tomlinson. Without him, there would be several years I would be happy if they finished .500 and beat the Raiders. For all the heartache true fans of San Diego sports endure, we have been represented by some of the finest role models in their respective sports. I would defy anyone to show me a sports star who carried himself with more class than Tomlinson or Tony Gwynn. We might not have championships, we might not have many wins, we might not have many postseason appearances, but we have some guys that have done it the right way throughout their career. We have some guys that prove there are still role models in sports. It's just unfortunate that they could not have been rewarded with more on the field successes. I am very proud of Tomlinson's career as a San Diegan, and I wish him the best in the future.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
There is a lesson to be learned from falling sports stars, it's just not very clear what that might be. There has been a concentrated string of sports heroes that are paying for indiscretions or evacuating their role as king of the mountain, and yet the moral lesson is still ambiguous. If we are going to make examples of athletes and coaches that make bad choices, then it should be clear why they are examples. Although sports figures are paying a heftier price than they once did, are they (or we) becoming better people because of it?
Baseball got the ball rolling by exposing the steroid issue. We have watched certain Hall of Famers sit in front of cameras and admit to steroid use in tearful apologies. We have watched with much more discomfort as the last of the steroid players vehemently denied their use, and decided to go down with the ship.
Then we have the "in between" guy Mark McGwire who finally came out of the steroid closet to ease his transition back to baseball. Rather than a straight forward apology, we got McGwire the victim, the rationalizer, and the delusional. There was an apology sandwiched in there somewhere. A wise man once said, "apologies under the gun are overrated."
My avid readers will remember I predicted an apology from McGwire as being unnecessary [The Punishment Fits the Crime: Big Mac's Return to Baseball] (this is becoming a habit), because it wouldn't change any opinions or shed any light on what was going on while he played. It is just a forced interaction that the media demands. It fits more in the category of celebrity gossip than watchdog journalism.
On a side note: If you want to see a reporter on top of his game, check out Bob Ley of ESPN's Outside the Lines. He has a wonderful blend of serious questioning and human decency. He is one of the few reporters that I admire in journalism, and I always feel like his work is for the public, and not for career advancement by being provocative. Sensationalism and spotty ethical framework are the driving reasons I decided not to pursue a career in the field. After watching Ley's latest series of interviews with McGwire, I feel a change of heart. He gives me faith that journalism can be an honorable profession. You just have to go to sports reporters to find it. What a shame...
Sports heroes have become more of a target these days. There's Tiger Woods (enough said), Mark Mangino, Mike Leach, Jim Leavitt, Michael Vick, Gilbert Arenas, Marvin Harrison, etc. I realize these cases are not related (other than the football coaches), but the days when sports figures literally got away with murder are over (thanks OJ). The Plaxico Burress conviction reversed the idea that professional athletes get favorable treatment from the courts by making him an example of tough gun control law.
The next to fall off the mountain could be former University of Southern California head coach Pete Carroll. Carroll decided to leave USC to become the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. There is nothing too strange about Carroll's desire to give the NFL another crack, but the way the change took place seemed quite odd. Carroll made some statements eluding that the college atmosphere could not live up to the NFL's, and in a flash, he was gone.
Not exactly the dream situation you would think Carroll would leave USC for. After inhabiting what most around college football viewed as the top position for nine seasons, Carroll jumped ship seemingly out of nowhere.
Shortly after, reports began swirling about NCAA infractions by the USC football program. Carroll has coached with impunity in his tenure with USC. No other program in the nation had such egregious dealings ignored by the NCAA. How long has the entire nation known that Reggie Bush's family was given a home? People have gone on record with proof that these transactions took place, yet no action has been taken.
Conversely, there are universities that find out about violations of the program, kick the players responsible off the team (including the starting QB), self impose scholarship restrictions, and the NCAA still hammers them. The largest biases in collegiate athletics does not live in the media, it resides in the justice league that is the NCAA. They clearly have programs they hate, and programs they adore. The NCAA has long been the Gestapo of the sports world, but for some reason USC remained immune during Carroll's tenure. It must be his moon reflecting smile.
Regardless of the past, it seems like USC has gotten away with too much and the NCAA must finally take action. They have already buried their basketball program for being dirty, and it looks like football is next. The Bush issue has resurfaced along with allegations that RB Joe McKnight was driving around LA in an SUV purchased by a booster for his "girlfriend."
The only reason I have any confidence in the NCAA to exact their brand of justice is due to Carroll's fleeing. He had the cushiest job in college athletics serving as football king in LA, a city that Carroll seemed perfectly suited for. Instead, he leaves the sun and beach behind for the tropical paradise of Seattle. How do you take your Latte, Mr. Carroll? Hope you packed your slicker.
College coaches have a history of fleeing programs that are about to be punished. The university takes the hit and the coach walks away to another job. Anybody ever heard of Kelvin Sampson? It looks like Carroll will be the next on that list. How can the NCAA let this happen? They are the strictest governing body in all of sports, yet they allow coaches to escape unharmed for their violations.
With the money paid to college basketball and football coaches, it is time to start hitting them in the wallet. I'm so sick of seeing the guys responsible for violations slink away in the night, only to watch the innocent schools and fans live with the punishment. As former Tennessee and current USC head coach Lane Kiffin highlighted, college coaches are really just free agents that follow the dollar. They don't have to live up to contracts, they don't have to follow rules, and they don't have to suffer the consequences of their actions.
College coaches are the only ones getting paid (legitimately), yet there is never a financial punishment. Why?
I understand that punishing the university is part of the process. It should be. But if they are not going to suspend coaches, then the NCAA should be fining them. Sports is used to teach life lessons and the NCAA acts as the moral authority. Coaches are directly responsible for imparting these lessons to their student athletes. What kind of life lesson are we teaching by letting coaches act without consequences?
Carroll will leave a legend in USC folklore while the program suffers consequences that are long overdue. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel bad for USC at all. In fact, I think they are going to get what they deserve with Kiffin as their new head coach. Tennessee is currently being investigated for several minor infractions Kiffin left behind. When the money and temptation of LA gets in his blood, there will inevitably be repercussions. I don't think the media will give Kiffin the pass Carroll had.
An unfortunate precedent has been set with the current system, and it is up to some competent people in the NCAA to reverse it. I realize "competent NCAA" is an oxymoron, but I can hope. Until the coaches themselves are punished for fleeing violations, there will be no change in their dirty activities. It is my belief that nearly every major program is dirty within the confines of NCAA restrictions. Either start paying the players or fining the coaches. The current system is faulty, and we will see just how much when they rule on USC.
So what have we learned from all these sports heroes? Men cry more often than we thought? Don't get caught? Money rules everything? I guess the answer is yes.
None of our baseball heroes caught in the steroid scandal would have admitted to cheating unless they had already been caught. None of our "old school" college football coaches would have been fired if they got along with their athletic directors. Tiger Woods wouldn't be losing sponsors if he wasn't such a colossal star that transcends sports. NBA and NFL stars would still be getting slapped on the wrist if it wasn't for the public outcry for serious litigation against rich athletes.
In the end, we do not have a better understanding of right and wrong from this latest public lashing. If the ends justify the means, then the most valuable lessons in athletics have been lost. The greatest teaching tool of human character is obscured by fame, greed, ego, and a faulty system of justice. If the NCAA truly wants to keep athletics pure, then they need to clean their own house. When they do, they can bury USC in the pile of skeletons they will need to shed to illustrate a clear ethical picture.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Finally! The wild card round of the playoffs is over and we can focus on the teams that really matter. Like the Chargers and Vikings. Why the Vikings? Because they have All Day, Adrian Peterson. That's why.
The first round of the playoffs had three games that were not very competitive, and one game that will be a classic forever. I knew what I was talking about when I said I would not be surprised by any of the winners, considering I missed three of my four picks. I have done pretty well picking NFL games this year, but last week was not what I expected.
If I had one lock for any game last week, it was New England defending their home field. But Baltimore won the game after the first play from scrimmage and made the Patriots look like I described them in my earlier post, The Fall of Ego (that's the first time I have plugged one of my posts, so don't hold it against me). RB Ray Rice has exceeded expectations, and appears to be the spitting image of Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew.
I never thought I would see Tom Brady get beat at home in the playoffs, but I have been waiting a long time for it to happen. I was surprised that I wasn't more excited, but I realized the Chargers might have to play the Ravens in the AFC championship. The Bolts can beat Indianapolis in their sleep but can't figure out Baltimore.
The Jets beat the Bengals on the road, and looked great doing so. If I had any guts I would have picked that game correctly, but I went against my better judgment and took the home team. I guess I forgot that you should never bet on the Bengals. But am I right in thinking that you should never bet on the Jets either?
Just making the playoffs was good enough for Cincy and they decided not to show up for the game. Who really knows how good the Jets are since they keep playing teams that are handing them the win. You wouldn't think it would happen in the playoffs, and it looks really bad for the legacy of QB Carson Palmer.
The Cowboys and Tony Romo finally got over the playoff hump and they have cemented themselves as the sexy pick for the NFC championship. Head coach Wade Phillips is safe for another year, and if I have any Dallas fans reading this, I would like to offer some insight on Phillips. He might not be the tough disciplinarian many want, and it might have taken him a few years to make his mark, but the strength of the Cowboys is their defense which he directs. I can tell you, I loved Phillips when he was the defensive coordinator for the Chargers. He put together the best San Diego defense I ever watched play. You would be wise to give him some credit for the job he did this year, regardless of what happens in Minnesota.
It was back to back poor performances for the Eagles, which is the only thing I did see coming last week. As much as I could not believe that I was taking the Cowboys to win a playoff game, I had less faith in the Eagles to rebound from the poor performance against Dallas the week prior. Eagles fans are ready to get rid of Donovan McNabb, which is Philly for you. A fresh start somewhere else might be a good idea, though. Like say...Minnesota?
Then there was the best wild card game of the decade (being just over a week old) with Cardinals QB Kurt Warner growing his illustrious legendary status. He does not lose many playoff games. Everyone in the world was picking the Packers. Green Bay did have a chance to win, but it would have been no fault of Warner's who put up one of the best statistical games ever in the postseason. He already owns most of the records in Super Bowl games.
It looked like a blowout early, but QB Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers stormed back and had a chance to win. Rodgers lived up to the hype he received before the game. What happened to the Packers defense? Warner, I guess.
On a night where the record for most points scored in a playoff game was broken, it was a defensive play that finally ended the game, albeit in controversy. In the end, 38 year old Warner added to his Hall of Fame resume by throwing more touchdowns (5) than incomplete passes (4), and his team continues to defend their NFC championship crown from last year.
With the Cardinals...Wow. Same guy who went to the Super Bowl with St. Louis. Twice. Can anyone tell me what any other coach or player has done since? How about the team? Someone please tell me Kurt Warner is not a Hall of Famer. I can win that argument in 15 seconds. I wish the Vikings could trade Brett Favre for Warner right now. And I'm a Brett Favre fan.
Sorry for the rant.
I'll end it by saying, I like Kurt Warner.
This week should be even more interesting now that the pretenders are out of the picture. Let's take a look at the matchups.
Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints
Arizona comes to New Orleans after an emotional win at home and a spectacular offensive output. Don't expect the game this week against the Saints to be much different. The Saints were the leagues most dominate team in the first half of the season, especially on offense. But they faltered down the stretch leaving many to doubt their legitimacy as a contender. Saints QB Drew Brees had another fantastic year leading his team to the number one seed in the NFC, but their spotty play late in the season, added to their long layoff, doesn't bode well for who dat nation.
Brees is still an infant when it comes to the playoffs, just 3-3 lifetime. The Cards might get WR Anquan Boldin back for this game which would improve an offense that just posted 51 points against what was supposed to be a good Packers defense.
I love Brees and the Saints offense, but I'm not sure the layoff was a good thing for New Orleans. They are such a rhythmic team, it's hard to see how time off could help that.
I think Arizona will ride the momentum of their first round victory and beat the Saints in a close one. The Cardinals defense will have to hold New Orleans to 34. In order for the Saints to win they will have to revert to their mid season form. Vegas has the over/under at 57 for this game. I would bet the house on the over. I can't wait to see Brees and Warner go at it.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Ravens put together their best game of the season last week, beating the Patriots convincingly in New England. Now they must go on the road and face Peyton Manning and the top seeded Colts. Indy chose to rest their star players after they secured the top seed in the AFC, and have not played a full game with their starters in several weeks. Many are concerned that the layoff will work against the momentum the Colts built throughout the year.
To me, it was a smart move with a team as old as the Colts. They have veteran players throughout their lineup which makes me think, not only do they need rest, they will be professional enough to be ready to play after the layoff.
Manning does not have the best track record in the playoffs, but it would take an unbelievable achievement for the Ravens to knock off New England and Indianapolis on the road in consecutive weeks.
Turnovers and running the ball were the keys to victory for Baltimore, last week. I think they will have a hard time getting turnovers against Manning, and they surely won't replicate the success they had running the ball. For the Ravens to have a chance, they are probably going to need QB Joe Flacco to step up and play well. Something they didn't need against the Patriots.
I think the well rested, veteran Colts will win this game in a nail biter. I like Manning to cement the win late in the fourth quarter.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings
Once again, Dallas is involved in what most are projecting to be the best matchup of the weekend. Now that they have won in December and the playoffs, the Cowboys faithful are looking for the Super Bowl title.
The main difference this week is they have to do it on the road. Dallas had a great win in December against the Saints in New Orleans. All the other Cowboys wins since have been at home. The strength of the team has been defense, but they have been balanced on offense as well. It doesn't hurt that Romo is not dating a pop star and subsequently playing the best football of his career.
Minnesota comes in well rested with the ultimate veteran Brett Favre. Many teams have found a way to contain the rushing attack of the Vikings by focusing on RB Adrian Peterson every play. Peterson's true greatness is apparent with the year that Favre had. Without the run game consuming so much attention, do you really think Favre would have had his best touchdown to interception ratio? Deciding how to defend the run will be a challenge for Dallas' defense.
The other challenge will be the superb defensive line of the Vikings. With breakdowns in the secondary, the Vikings defensive line kept their defense solid, led by sack machine Jared Allen. The Cowboys have not faced a D line this good all year. The good news for Dallas is that Romo gets rid of the ball faster than any QB in the league, and they run a lot of three step drops which should combat the rush of Minnesota.
I think Peterson needs to get going early by breaking a big run and taking some pressure off of Favre. Peterson hasn't eclipsed the 100 yard mark in his last seven games and it seems like he's due for a breakout. Still, the Cowboys' defense is not an easy place to start.
Another tough one to call, but I think Minnesota wins at home. Expectations should be taken in baby steps for Cowboys fans, and Minnesota plays awfully well at home. The team that gets the most turnovers will win this one.
New York Jets vs. San Diego Chargers
San Diego has been in this position several times. Playing at home in a game they are supposed to win. They seem to have a tougher time as the favorite rather than playing as an underdog.
Over the last 11 weeks of the season the Chargers have been the most consistent team in the NFL, and the leagues best offense. They boast four receivers and tight ends that are 6'4" or taller. QB Phillip Rivers deserved a better look as the league's MVP, and WR Vincent Jackson was robbed to not make the AFC Pro Bowl roster.
The Jets come into San Diego as the Cinderella of the postseason after defying the odds to even make the playoffs. Their good fortune continued when they faced a Bengals team twice in successive weeks that just rolled over and let them have their way. The term "shut down corner" is once again en vogue thanks to DB Darrelle Revis who has shut down every top receiver he lined up against this year. The Jets will look to assert their run game which is rated tops in the NFL, and play great defense, also first in the league.
It is a battle of offense against defense, but the Chargers are more experienced, more talented, and playing at home. They are also healthier than they have been all season. Pro Bowl TE Antonio Gates should provide matchup nightmares for the Jets defense, and the heavy blitzing schemes of Jets head coach Rex Ryan will be countered with screen passes to Darren Sproles. Sooners fans know what Sproles can do with the ball in his hands. Should the game be close in the fourth quarter, Rivers is probably the best closer in the league, with all due respect to Manning.
In the end, I like my Chargers at home. If they protect the ball and hold the Jets to field goals, this one could be over in the third quarter.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
This is where the and stuff portion of my blog comes into play.
When I was about seven years old, living in San Diego, I would have frequent night "episodes," I guess you could call them. I had nightmares like any other child of that age that would send me knocking on my parents' door late at night, but these "episodes" were different.
I would sleepwalk occasionally and find myself awake on the floor of the living room. I can remember waking up below an artificial tree by the television more than once. I have found myself in front of the refrigerator, and I even made it to the back yard.
My parents tell a story about waking up in the middle of the night to me screaming, "He's got me!" My Dad springs from the bed and runs into my room to find my bed empty. He becomes frantic, and apparently ran down the street in his underwear looking for whoever took me. I'm not sure who found me, but a couple minutes later I was discovered, fast asleep in the living room.
For a better visual I will give you some details about my bedroom as a child. My bed was pushed in the corner of my room directly beneath a window on my right side, if sleeping on my back. The houses in our neighborhood were fairly close together (Southern California real estate), and my only view out of this window was our fence, four feet away. My desk sat on the opposite side of the bed.
One night while asleep, an ultra bright light shot through my bedroom window waking me up. At first I thought the neighbors car was parked in their yard with the lights on, but the light was much too bright for a car. It filled the entire room and seemed to be focused directly in my window. I was unable to make out the fence or the skyline outside.
I turned over in my bed and immediately felt disoriented. I remember a kind of euphoric sensation (the closest adjective I can think of, but not completely accurate) came over me. I sensed for a moment that I was incredibly small. Microcosm small. Then I felt the opposite sensation, feeling incredibly large, presiding over an infinite group of tiny organisms. There was a tremendous energy surrounding not only me, but everything around me. I became both tiny and enormous at the same time. I was washed away with everything else in silent, wavelike power. I felt like a piece of sand swirling down a sink hole.
It was not scary. I didn't seem to notice any real emotions other than complete relaxation. I felt like I was in a field, hiding from something that I knew would never find me. It felt like floating in a lucid dream I could not wake up from.
Then I did wake up.
I snapped awake and looked next to my bed to find a slender being with all the typical characteristics of the common extraterrestrial. Tall, gangly, large football shaped head, oval shaped eyes that were black and glossy, grey skin. It had some sort of strange light source that gently illuminated its body, while cloaking the rest of the room in darkness.
I was horrified but rendered unable to react. I lost the ability to feel time, and events seemed to be rushing by while I watched in fragments. Nothing made sense. At some point in time, I remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror, trying to scream with no sound escaping.
I only remember the being for a brief moment, but I vividly remember being instructed to, "get the scissors." In this communication, I immediately recognized that I was supposed to walk into our kitchen and bring the scissors my parents kept in a potato chip can back to my room.
If you're confused about "potato chip can," there was, and maybe still is, a brand of potato chips called Charles Chips that used to sell their products in an aluminum canister. My parents used one of the small ones to house pens, scissors, etc.
I obediently walked into the kitchen and brought the scissors back to my room. I remember standing in front of the canister and contemplating what I was doing, but I was unable to snap out of my trance. I made it at least as far as my bedroom door, and that is where my memory ends.
I woke up the next morning to find the scissors from the kitchen sitting on my desk next to the bed. They were dripping wet as if they had just been rinsed off.
The strangest part of the story is that I had a small, bloodless cut along the side of my right knee, which later formed a one inch scar that I still have today.
That episode shook me up. I started absorbing accounts of alien encounters (mostly on the TV show Unsolved Mysteries), and read what is probably one of the two most famous "true" abduction stories ever written. It is called Communion, by Whitley Strieber, and it's an interesting read. Christopher Walken starred in the movie adaptation, but it's pretty embarrassing to watch with the limits on special effects from that time.
Hearing these accounts, and reading that book convinced me of the following:
1. I do believe in life outside of the realm of humans. It seems absurd and extremely egocentric to think we are the only source of life in an infinite universe.
2. Most accounts of alien abduction are complete BS. There are countless psychological and spiritual reasons why an individual would experience an alien encounter. If any stories of abduction are true, it is an extremely small percentage of those that are out there.
3. I was not visited by an extraterrestrial. My experience did not relate to any of the accounts I was exposed to. As time went on, the impact of this experience faded. It did not haunt me throughout my life.
I have a hard time believing that there has been any communication between space aliens and humans. There are some stories that will really make you question what you believe, but it still feels far fetched to me. I don't discount the possibility, just the reality of what most experience.
I chalk my experience up to subconscious imagination and sleepwalking. The only detail that still troubles me is that I was able to cut myself without blood well enough to form a scar.
I kept the story to myself mostly. I think I told people about the weird dream I had but left out the more bizarre details. As I got older I was able to tell the story more completely and not worry about ridicule. I think part of that process was figuring out what I believed actually happened. Eventually I became comfortable in believing it was all a dream, so I was able to talk about it. However, I did spend some time struggling with those thoughts.
The fact is, I was never abducted in my encounter. Just asked by an alien to bring it an ordinary household item. I received no message, and had no spiritual enlightenment due to the encounter. There was no lasting damage (that I can tell), and I had no episodes of recurrence. And for those funny people who are already coming up with their jokes, I was not probed. I had no physical connection at all.
Just a strange dream.
Friday, January 8, 2010
What is the most reprehensible thing a football fan can do in the stadium?
Forget the fact fans swear around children (sorry), get drunk and stumble around in public, scream foul profanities directed towards 19 year old college students, throw food and drink on fans and the field, make insulting posters, and start fights with opposing fans.
The answer is cheering when a player from the opposition gets hurt. A fan who cheers at an injury during the game would be the child molester of the prison world. They are surrounded by heinous criminals, yet even the criminals think the child molester is revolting.
That is what Texas Longhorns fans are, and they had this coming.
For those of you who don't know, Texas QB, and two time Heisman finalist, Colt McCoy was injured in the first quarter of the national championship game, unable to return. He wasn't hurt bad, but his arm went numb and he felt like he couldn't perform.
There is always one in every crowd.
A marquee player goes down with an injury and the guy in the row in front of you, totally wasted, slurs together some sort of howl of approval. It's never okay, even when he is rooting for your team. I would love to have every Sooners fan that does that banned from attending games in person. It's embarrassing.
But this October, I sat and watched as half of the Cotton Bowl roared with delight when Bradford was on the ground holding his shoulder. It was the most classless display of fandom that I have ever witnessed in 28 years of attending sporting events (and I have been to Miami for a football game).
So when I say that Texas fans had this coming, I don't feel bad in the slightest. If anything, this was a gift for the Longhorns because they now have an excuse as to why they lost. Now they don't have to accept defeat, just like they haven't gotten over being jumped in the BCS by Oklahoma last year.
I was not happy that Colt got injured (at least not that I'll admit), but I am happy that my faith in karma has been restored. If there was ever a fan base that deserved something like this to happen, it is the faithful of the burnt orange. Believe me, I have plenty of perspective living in Austin.
The game, as most of you know, is not really worth going back over. Neither team was coached well. If anything, Alabama made more coaching mistakes. The only other notable part of the entire game was the Gatorade bath that Alabama head coach Nick Saban took.
I saw his clips on ESPN before the game. He didn't smile the entire week. When asked if he was able to enjoy any of the atmosphere, he flatly replied, "No." So when the bucket was heading his way, I thought he would finally crack, flash a smile, and celebrate with his team.
He turned around with a disgusted look on his face to catch the number of the perpetrators. He didn't celebrate at all. He just grabbed a towel and dried himself off disgustedly. No one around the bath tried to celebrate the moment either. They all knew how Saban would react.
The only way you could justify being that much of a curmudgeon during an event like that, is if you personally believe that it is disrespectful to your opponent.
I don't buy that since Gatorade baths are so commonplace during bowl games, especially the National Championship.
I would root for any other team in the Big XII playing in a BCS game with the exception of Oklahoma State, for the same reason I don't root for Texas. OSU fans are just as bad as UT fans. I dislike many teams because they have beaten OU in the past, but the teams that really disgust me are the ones with classless fans.
In my mind, it was a tie between OSU and UT, but UT's Heisman moment came when they cheered at Bradford's injury.
Loudly. In unison.
Longhorns fans didn't deserve the title.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Wipe the slate clean, it's tournament time in the NFL and the action should be fantastic. Looking at the first round games I don't see any possible upsets. What I mean by that is no matter who wins, it shouldn't be considered an upset. After the first round, every remaining team has a great chance to make the Super Bowl.
I am very excited for the playoffs, and it doesn't hurt that the Chargers are the hottest team in the NFL. Regardless of my biases, the games look to be very entertaining, even for the fans whose team missed the playoffs. In one of the strangest twists the NFL has ever seen, three of four first round games are rematches from the previous week. Baltimore/New England is the only game that is not a rematch of week 17. All three games had lopsided outcomes which may or may not mean anything. We'll find out this weekend.
The only problem I have with the playoffs this year is the way the Jets were able to sneak in. In a year where half the AFC was competing for the last wild card spot the final week, the Jets benefited from extremely favorable scheduling and management decisions by teams that had their playoff spot locked up, effectively eliminating competitive action. I didn't see it coming because I assumed Indianapolis would defend their perfect season, but they decided to rest their starters to the benefit of the Jets. You can bet there are some fans in New England that would agree with that decision.
It is an issue that deserves attention from the NFL to keep the spirit of competition alive late in the season, although I doubt there are any real solutions available. You can't expect teams to play all their starters to the bitter end when the game effectively means nothing. Right now, the negatives out weigh the positives.
New York Jets vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Jets and Bengals played last week with NY dominating Cincy to the tune of 37-0. The game was played in the Meadowlands, in frigid weather, after Cincy had locked up their playoff spot. Still, the Jets defense was pretty convincing holding the Bengals to one first down and zero yards passing. Don't let the points fool you, the Jets won't put up 37 again, but they might benefit from great scheduling, once again, playing the mourning Bengals on the heels of a blowout.
The Jets and Bengals might be the teams that pose the weakest threat to win the AFC. Cincy played fairly inspired football in San Diego the week after Chris Henry died, but have since looked like a team waiting for the playoffs to start. They will have to find their offensive identity against the league's best defense, after coasting the last month of the season. I believe it will be very important for Cincinnati to score in the first quarter. They will also have to play better defense than they have recently.
I can't ignore what the Jets were able to do at home against Cincy, but I still have trouble believing they can put up enough points to win on the road. This is an extremely difficult game to pick. When right, Cincy is better, but if their play over the last month is an indicator as to how they will play this weekend, you can give it to the Jets. Cincy's offense will have RB Cedric Benson back along with WR Chad Ochocinco. I see overtime in this one. The home team takes it by a field goal.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys
This is the best game of the first round and features two teams that are quite familiar with each other. Dallas has eliminated the chatter that they can't win in December, and are now being called the favorite in the NFC by some analysts. This is a typical reaction to Dallas winning a couple of games. Let's not forget that the Boys haven't won a playoff game since 1996, and QB Tony Romo has yet to win one.
That being said, the Cowboys beat the Eagles twice this year. Much like the Jets, Dallas dominated Philly last week and will have the chance to make it two weeks in a row. Unlike the Jets, Dallas gets to do it at home. The win also saw the Cowboys defense post its second straight shutout. Head coach Wade Phillips seems to have bought himself another year in Dallas (to the dismay of many Cowboys fans), but really needs a playoff win to cement this. Don't forget, it was an embarrassing loss to Philly in the final game last year that kept Dallas out of the playoffs.
Philadelphia comes in wounded, but before last week's loss they had won six games in a row. Philly gets their third crack at Dallas this year which makes them dangerous, but they bring in a makeshift offensive line without their starting center. The Eagles played most of the year with more fire power than Gilbert Arenas, and if they can find that again they are very capable of winning this game. Head coach Andy Reid always seems to have his team ready in the playoffs. Starting QB Donovan Mcnabb has nine career playoff wins.
Is this the game that gets the monkey off the backs of Romo and the Cowboys? They overcame the doubters for their stretch run in December, but the playoffs are a different animal. The biggest question might be how much can you change in six days if you are the Eagles? Romo and the Boys cannot afford to lose this game, and lucky for them they will be at home. Another toss up goes to the home team.
Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots
So the good news is the Ravens finished out the season nicely and landed a wild card position in the playoffs. The bad news is they are playing the Patriots in Foxborough. Even though I am not wild about the Pats this season, and they just lost WR Wes Welker to injury, New England doesn't lose games at home. Especially in the playoffs.
The Pats are 5-0 all time against the Ravens. They have won 11 straight playoff games at home, and Tom Brady is 14-3 as a playoff starter. Pretty sobering if you are a Ravens fan.
I like the Ravens as a team, but this is not the same team that took a wild card seed and won the Super Bowl. The Ravens have shifted from all defense to mostly offense. The Pats should move the chains and put up points. The Ravens will rely on their run attack, which has been terrific this year, to out score the Pats. The emergence of RB Ray Rice has helped veteran RB Willis McGahee stay fresh and work more as a goal line back. QB Joe Flacco put together a solid sophomore campaign, and the Ravens will have future hall of fame safety Ed Reed back from injury in a limited capacity.
Once the playoffs start, the Patriots will still intimidate their opponents with their postseason pedigree. Tom Brady under center is enough to give the Pats confidence they can win the Super Bowl. Without Welker and a mediocre defense, there is almost no way this can happen, but I expect them to beat the Ravens soundly at home. The true test will come when they have to play outside Foxborough the following week.
Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals
In what might possibly be QB Kurt Warner's final game, the Packers and Cardinals rematch in Arizona after Green Bay won 33-7, last week. The teams went in two different directions with the Pack playing as if they needed to maintain momentum, and the Cards deciding to not show any schemes and rest veteran players. Aaron Rodgers will make his postseason debut after a stellar second season as the Packers starting QB.
The Cards come into this game as a team that can play bad one week only to bounce back and look like the NFC champs from last year. WR Anquan Boldin looks like he may miss the game with an ankle injury which will spell big trouble for the Cards. With Pro Bowl DB Charles Woodson covering WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona will miss Boldin and his ability to make plays opposite Fitz. Still, this is a Cardinal team that has been here before, and with Warner under center in the playoffs, good things happen. He is 8-3 in the postseason.
The Packers enter this matchup as the NFC's best defensive team and winners in seven of their last eight games. Rodgers deserves the extensive praise he receives, and has eclipsed 4,000 yards passing both years as a starter. He is the only player in NFL history to achieve that feat. RB Ryan Grant had a solid year running for the Pack, and the offensive line troubles that plagued Green Bay early in the season were amended.
It's hard to predict how either team will play in this game. I believe the Packers to be a better team, but they are relatively inexperienced, and they are playing on the road. It will be an uphill battle for Arizona who actually played better on the road than at home this year. A complete reversal from last year. In the end, I see Green Bay as the more complete team, and I expect the Packers to advance.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
In a word. Nothing.
After winning the Fiesta Bowl for the second time in four years, Boise State once again showed they are one of the best football programs in the nation. They also showed they still have no place in the BCS National Championship, and neither does any other mid major team.
BSU proved little more than it is the best mid major team in the FBS, Monday. The Broncos scraped by an uninspired Texas Christian team that looked like they were frozen in the spot light. Neither team played much offense, and BSU once again relied on a trick play to turn the tide in their favor.
TCU turned in its worst performance of the year offensively with QB Andy Dalton throwing three interceptions, including one returned for a TD that tallied seven of the 17 points the Broncos scored in the win. The Horned Frogs converted just one first down the entire game and looked disoriented with BSU's shifting defense.
The game was littered with penalties, dropped passes, missed receivers, turnovers, and sloppy offenses that could muster no yardage on the ground. Obviously, both defenses deserve credit for making that happen, but it really didn't leave the impression that either of these teams deserved to be playing in the championship, or that their programs deserve a closer look going forward.
The debate will rage on next year with both teams returning most of their starters. BSU will most likely start the year ranked in the top five which will give them an advantage they have not had in their previous undefeated campaigns. They should be primed to run the table again with their two biggest opponents being Oregon State at home, and Virgina Tech on a neutral field.
The BCS conspiracy theorists will tell you that the matchup of the two undefeated mid major teams was put together to keep out the little guy. By not giving the mid major teams a chance to compete against some of the bigger schools, the BCS would not have to apologize for creating a system which effectively gives schools from power conferences a monopoly on the BCS National Championship.
I can't really argue with that. I would have loved to seen both of these teams play big schools. At least we would have a clue as to whether or not they belonged in the national championship game, based on their talent. Last year the mid majors gained a lot of momentum when Utah throttled Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. That didn't mean that Utah deserved a chance at the National Championship. There were three teams far superior to Alabama that year (Florida, Oklahoma, Texas), and the bowl game is just one game.
Side Note: I am making these arguments in the confines of the current BCS system. At this point I imagine someone is thinking playoff, playoff, playoff, but that is not the current system, and that is an argument for another time.
When BSU beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, they played one of the weakest OU teams of the Bob Stoops era. History led the casual fan to forget OU played with a WR as a QB because OU's starter was kicked off the team (along with their best offensive lineman). The Broncos had to pull more than one rabbit out of their hat to win in overtime, even though OU spotted them three quarters.
The point is TCU and BSU can, occasionally, compete in a bowl game with major conference teams and win. They do not, however, have to do it week in and week out like the major conference teams. It might be a tired argument, but there are some finer points as to why this is the reason mid majors do not belong in a national championship game.
First. Beating one quality opponent a year is not enough. This year BSU beat Oregon, at home, in the opener. Make no mistake, the first game of the year is a crap shoot for most teams. Competitive schools like to schedule their weakest opponent in the opener to work out the kinks and warm up for the stronger competitors. Oregon took a huge chance playing a team like BSU before they were battle tested. The fact that they lost will continue to hurt mid major schools that have success because strong teams will avoid scheduling them. Not to mention, BSU was at home. Do you think they walk away with a win in Eugene? Gainesville? Even Lubbock? I don't think so.
Second. Playing in a weak conference, with less talent and depth, keeps athletes healthy. The physical toll that an SEC or Big XII team takes every week far overshadows anything that BSU or TCU has to face. That is a huge advantage for mid majors. Major conference schools have to be much deeper, and face more injury related issues than the mids.
Third. Play each other. I have heard BSU whine that no one will play them. Here's an idea. TCU and BSU play each other every year. If you can't schedule the big guys, then schedule each other. Don't wait for a nonsense matchup in the BCS. Play a top 15 mid major school rather than someone like Wyoming. Only one will remain eligible for the national championship, but at least it will be a start. I don't blame anyone but the schedule makers for not convincing the BCS they should get a chance to play for a title.
Fourth. Beat someone without the gadgets. This is obviously directed at BSU, but no matter how well you run them, the trick plays still seem mid majorish. I will not fault BSU for being great at running gadgets, or for having the guts to call them when no one else would, or for being so well prepared they are run to perfection. But it just isn't big boy football. Granted, the fake punt was just about the only interesting play of the Fiesta Bowl, and it essentially won the game for BSU, but they have now won two BCS games directly related to gimmicks. Trick plays are run by teams that need an edge to make up for a lack of talent or depth. It might be fantastic coaching, a great call, great execution, whatever. When you want to be taken seriously among the elite of college football, don't rely on gadgets. Blue turf doesn't help the image either.
Side Note: Just to be clear, I have tons of respect for BSU head coach Chris Petersen and think he is an absolutely brilliant coach who has done amazing things with the Broncos. I am not blaming him in any way for keeping BSU out of the BCS title game. I have to admire the confidence he instills in his team, their consistency, preparation, and execution when all eyes are on them.
Finally. Join a conference. Quit pouting on the sidelines and get in the game. Isn't it about time that the Big XII drops Baylor and adds TCU? There have been talks of Missouri defecting to the Big Ten, a spot might be open. I'm sure the PAC 10 could find room for Boise if someone campaigned the right way. Doesn't the Big Ten need an upgrade? Stop trying to back door your way in. If you are going to put a quality program on the field year after year, it is time to stop being a mid major and come on up to the big leagues. It might not be something these schools can control, but I haven't heard much about them trying to upgrade their conference. Too much breath is wasted on campaigning to get into certain bowls when the real campaign should be to force your way in to a major conference. Just showing an effort to get into a better conference might garner sympathy for the plight of these top mid majors.
I think that BSU and TCU could compete with some of the best teams in college football weekly. I believe they would have a significant impact on a major conference and continue to be successful. What I don't believe is that you would see them going undefeated and competing for BCS games consistently. The mid majors might want to stick with the Fiesta Bowl as their de facto national championship game because the path to the BCS is easier for them than any team out of a major conference. That is why they do not deserve to play for the national championship. Not because they can't compete, because they currently don't have to earn it.